3 Ways to Separate Yourself

separate-yourselfEach summer I attend my sons’ youth soccer games. Little kids’ games are extremely entertaining. They play what I call “the huddled masses” soccer, where a herd of children swarms the ball tripping over each other in the process. It’s wildly fun to watch.

Parents shout at their child to “kick harder” and “run faster”, hoping their kid can separate the ball and themselves from the pack. Any time a kid accomplishes this feat he or she generally is seen racing toward an open net and for an easy GOOOOAAAALLLLLL!

Businesses face a similar frenzy, getting lost in the masses while attempting to claw, kick and scream to be recognized. Having a good product or quality service isn’t enough; you must find distinct ways to separate yourself from the pack.

Here are 3 ways to separate yourself:

Understand the Business You’re In

Years ago I worked for a minor-league sports team. We started with the misconception that we were in the football business. We were wrong. As a sports team, we competed against movie theaters, concerts, amusements parks, miniature golf and other sporting events. We were in the entertainment business.

We needed to convince customers to spend their money attending our games over other forms of entertainment. Once we understood the business we were in, our marketing improved, each game became an event, and eventually ticket sales increased.

Be Known for Something

What do you want to be known for? What makes people think of you first?

When I want sushi, I think of Simply Sushi in Salt Lake City. To me, they are the best value for good sushi. There are cheaper sushi restaurants. There are higher quality ones too. Simply Sushi decided they would be known as the best value. This definition often wins my lunch money.

McDonald’s is known for the Big Mac. Burger King is Home of the Whopper. They offer other menu options, but they’re known for one main thing.

Trying to be all things to all people may result in not being known at all.

Be Social

Many professionals and businesses still struggle to know what to do with Social Media. It’s okay to start simple and build your strategy from there. Social Media should be used to entertain, educate and engage.

Think of social media as another communication channel. Yes, it requires an investment in time, resources, and creativity. Your investment will be part of what separates you from your competition. Find ways to be different. Be interactive. Be memorable.

 

What other ways have you found to separate yourself?

– DJ

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What are you reading?

20160916_150150-01Never stop learning. Advice heard over and over again. As part of my 30-Day “Do More” Challenge, I’ve placed a higher importance on developing a habit of daily learning through reading books. No, my goal of 15 minutes a day isn’t some amazing feat; It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to get me back in the habit… every single day.

This got me thinking about business books I’ve read, and ones I want to read.

Here’s my list:

Currently reading:

Favorites from earlier in my career:

What’s next (to name a few):

If you are looking for a marketing book to get started I’d recommend The New Rules of Marketing and PR. If you want a general business book, with plenty of application for your personal life, Think Big, Act Bigger! – for sure.

 

Tell me about any books you’d recommend.

3 Tips to Kick Start Your Marketing

Remember when marketing was as simple as a trip to the copy store to make fliers or as complex as a full-blown campaign starting with a call to an ad agency?

Today the tools and resources for marketing cover a much wider spectrum and are vastly available to experienced marketers and novices alike.  The sheer volume of marketing acronyms, terms and mediums are enough to make your head spin.

Marketing terms

Yes, marketing can feel overwhelming, especially social media marketing; it’s the new 800 lb gorilla. Whether you’re a business owner or industry leader you know marketing is important. Now you’re saying, “So where do I start?”

Here are 3 tips to you get started: 

Ask: Why?

Why is marketing a priority at this time? Think about what has transpired prompting you to do more marketing (or some marketing for that matter). Once you understand what’s motivating the decision you can determine the desired results.

No one says “I want to use power tools” and starts driving random holes and sawing wood. You start with an objective or end result in mind, for example “I want a bench.” Then determine what tools will work best to accomplish it.

Don’t start with the kind of marketing, start with the results you’d like to achieve. Knowing the results will help you better evaluate what tools to use.

Warning: If you said “I want more customers” or “I want more money” – try again!  Be more specific.

Start Small

Taking on the entire gamut of marketing tools and practices would be overwhelming, leading to inevitable failure. It’s better to do a couple things exceptionally well than a slew of things poorly. For example, if you settle on social media as a launching point don’t create a Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr account all at once. Always be asking “Which of this will most effectively help me reach my goals?”

Narrow down your list of potential marketing activities to 3 or 4. Then do some research; a ton of information is online including industry articles, blogs, customer reviews and more. Next, find some live people to discuss your marketing choices with. Yes, actual conversations. Inquire about success stories, tip and tricks, failures and things to avoid. Talk to co-workers, talk to similar businesses, and even talk to sales reps. Watch for my future blog article on dealing with sales reps.

Finally, get started by selecting one or two marketing mediums to begin using. Notice I said 1 or 2 – not 3, 4, or 5!

Dedicate Time

Marketing needs to be a habit. Set aside time each week to work on it. It can be 15 minutes a day, an hour every other day or two hours a week. Consistency is key. Choose specific days and times, for example, Tuesday and Thursday from 8-9:30am. Put it on your calendar; make it a weekly task. Dedicate this time 100% to your new marketing efforts. That requires selecting days and times with minimal interruptions.

During this time evaluate what’s working – and improve on it. Determine what’s not working – and find ways to change it. Again, your barometer for successful marketing will be based on its effectiveness in getting you closer to your goals.

Marketing shouldn’t be a guessing game. Although it’s not an exact science it is a science, one that needs to be researched, tested, and retested to achieve optimal results. That takes time!

800 lbs marketing gorillaII

Bonus Tips:

  • Be Patient – Marketing takes time. Time to learn, to take effect, and to perfect.
  • Have Fun – It’s marketing not biochemical engineering.

 

Enough of the pep talk – Go, get started today!

Marketing shouldn’t be a guessing game. Although it’s not an exact science it is a science.

I’d love to hear from you: What has been one of your most successful marketing campaigns?

From Where You’re Sitting

Hong Kong PaintingMy favorite piece of décor in my simple office at work is a painting I picked up in Hong Kong a couple years ago. My most cherished items are the pictures of my wife and four children. Adorning the walls are also a few leadership certificates, company awards, a sword (a story for another time), and a white board.

A couple years ago my operations manager sat in one of the two chairs in front of my desk and commented how one corner of my office was bare and quite drab. Spinning my chair around 180 degrees I saw that she was right. The small corner was plan with nothing on the walls. I turned back to her and replied “Yeah, but it doesn’t bother me, because I’m never looking in that direction.”

After a rather tiring day this week I walked down the hall with several work issues on my mind. I entered my office and instead of sitting in normal computer chair, dropped into a chair in front of my desk. As I lifted my eyes off the floor, the unadorned corner and remembrance of her words shook me from my thoughts. Wow! Almost two years later and I’d done nothing about it. The purpose for decorating in the first place was to make the space more inviting. For numerous co-workers who interact with me on a weekly basis, the main focal point of what they see has the exact opposite effect. And I’ve done nothing about it – because it didn’t bother me.

How aware are we of what everyone else is seeing and experiencing?

  • What things do we only view from our perspective not that of our clients, customers and co-workers?
  • How is our marketing being received and interpreted?
  • How do our customers perceive our brand? Customer service? Product offering?
  • How is our leadership style being received?

Reality is, as long as I only sat on my side of the desk – I would only see things from that point-of-view. I had to physically sit where my co-worker sat to gain a better understanding.

  • Marketers need to leave their computers and mingle with prospective customers and target audiences
  • Business owners need to get out from behind the counter – walk around to where customers are sitting, standing in line or shopping
  • Leaders need to walk away from their desk and see what’s going on in the trenches

There is a lot to be learned from seeing the world from the eyes of others!

 Hmm, the only question now is what should I do about the empty corner of my office? – Comments and suggestions welcome.

The plain drab corner

Get Some Motivation Already

You probably noticed the title of this blog changed; OK, no one noticed but me and I’m the one who changed it. Nonetheless it changed from Branding, Marketing and Loyalty to Marketing & Motivation.

Why?

Recently I’ve considered several blog posts, but nothing really concrete. As I’ve noodled different ideas I realize most branding I refer to is a form of marketing. Branding is also an area that I don’t spend much time on professionally. Loyalty and loyalty programs is where I focus a good portion of my work, but loyalty is often a combination of good marketing used to motivate people to demonstrate loyalty. Loyalty and Management are areas I’ll continue to blog about, but will use categories and tags to identify these articles.

The topic of Motivation is something I find fascinating and have quite a few opinions on. My undergraduate degree is in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Sociology. This gives me a certain level of academic expertise!? Mostly, I enjoy watching, studying and observing how people and groups are motivated (or quite often demotivated).

Marketing is also a form of motivation. I like the tie between the two concepts. Marketing is designed to motivate or encourage a desired response – to buy, read, like, watch or do something.

Bottom-line: Keep an eye out for some absolutely mind-blowing, immensely insightful, stunningly amazing blog posts about marketing & motivation… coming soon!

 

3 WAYS TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE PACK

Each week my family attends a slew of youth soccer games. Although the competitive soccer matches are more intense, the little kids’ games are the most entertaining. The 4-and-5 year olds play a huddled masses style of soccer, where a herd of children swarm the ball tripping over each other in the process. It’s wildly fun to watch as parents (yes, me included) holler encouragingly for their child to “kick harder” and “run faster” in an attempt to separate the ball and the child from the pack. Any time a kid accomplishes this not-so-easy feat he or she is generally off to the races with the ball, to a wide-open net and an easy goal. SCORE!

 Today’s business environment creates a similar frenzy, as businesses get lost in the masses, while attempting to claw, kick and scream to be recognized. Having a good product or high quality service just isn’t enough. To be successful, you must find distinct ways to separate yourself from the pack.

Here’s 3 ways to do so:

  1. 1.       Understand

Understanding the business you’re in is crucial. Years ago I worked for a minor-league, indoor football team; at first with had the misconception that we were in the football business. We were wrong! No college football or NFL games happened in the spring (when we played our games). However, we were competing against NBA basketball, movie theaters, concerts, amusements parks and even miniature golf. See, we were in the entertainment business. Our challenge was to convince consumers to spend their money on indoor football over other forms of entertainment. Once we understood the business we were in, we did a better job of marketing, event creation and eventually ticket sales.

By understanding the business you’re in marketing communication will be more effective and you’ll have a better grasp on how to most effectively drive revenue.

  1. 2.       Define

Define what you want to be known for. What makes people think of you first!? If I’m in the mood for sushi I think of Simply Sushi in Salt Lake City. They’ve proved to be the best value for me to get quality sushi and a lot of it. Other places in town are cheaper; other places have a higher quality sushi. Simply Sushi decided they want to be known for being the Best Value. This definition often wins them my lunch money.

McDonald’s is known for the Big Mac. Burger King is Home of the Whopper. They both offer tons of other menu options, but early on they decided what they wanted to be known for. Do the same for your business. Trying to be all things to all people is extremely difficult. More often than not, you’ll be known for nothing to most people.

If say we want to be known for good customer service, go back to the drawing board. Too easy to “say” but generally not what people will remember you for (although they will remember bad service). Personally, I rarely pay for good customer service, but I do expect it.

Side note: This concept also works for managers and employees. Years ago I worked with a young sales rep from Brazil. His language skills weren’t the best and he was never the #1 rep, but he decided early on he wanted to be known for getting the best, most aggressive deals. He defined what he wanted to be known for, he made it happen and it has benefited his career.

  1. 3.       Get Social

Social Media is growing by leaps and bounds. However, plenty of businesses (and working professionals) are slow to take advantage of it. Social Media can be fun, interactive, and spontaneous and give you an edge over the competition. Blogs, Twitter and YouTube are great for both businesses and Individuals. It requires an investment in dedicating time to social media activities. The investment will create awareness and separate you from the competition. Most Social Media tools are free and easy to use. Make it fun, make it memorable. Remember, use Social Media to talk with people not talk at them or try merely to sell them.

Take advantage of opportunities to separate yourself from the pack or you might find the competition is running away from you.

How Social Media Marketing Can Hurt Your Business

I heard a marketing plug for a particular retail business on the radio. The ad mentioned that you can check out their business on Facebook and on Twitter. I was intrigued and stopped by the business after work. When I got there, the overall look of the store was less than appealing, the staff was not helpful and customer service was almost nonexistent. I walked out thinking I would never go back.

Since that experience I’ve decided that:

  1. “Traditional marketing” is still effective when done properly
    1. This includes radio, TV, print and promotional offers.
  2. No marketing or branding campaigns can overcome poor customer service, cluttered stores or unappealing business environment.
    1. Driving customers to your business can actually hurt you, if you’re not ready to handle them.
  3. Social media marketing may not be the best place for business owners to spend their time  
    1. Maybe some owners need to get off the computer, out of the office and go work on their actual business.

You’ll find millions of articles on how to use social media marketing to generate sales. The challenge is that this type of marketing can be a never-ending time sucker. Technology is great, but if basic business practices (a product/service people want, clear appealing location, friendly staff, etc) aren’t happening no amount of marketing, social media or otherwise, is helping your business.